A teenage boy suffering from curvature of the spine begins swimming every week at the local pool, at the repeated request of his chiropractor. In the interior and echoing world of the swimming pool, surrounded by anonymous bodies and in between lengths, he becomes acquainted with a girl who agrees to give him pointers on his poor technique.
It is the start of a tentative friendship, one that exists only in the water, every Wednesday; a friendship made up of touches, gestures and shared silences more than conversation. As their relationship develops, the boy's need for the girl grows, until the pool becomes for him a place freighted with expectancy and longing. One day, she mouths a message underwater - but what could it mean?
Chlorine is an intimate and evocative work, revealing in simple yet beautifully-drawn and coloured panels an extraordinary world. With it, Bastien Vivès confirms his place as one of the most original and promising young writers of today.
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This is one of those books that I want to say lots about in order to convince you to read it but find myself rendered slightly speechless by its simplicity, its beauty and its sheer ability to move the reader. It is easily the best graphic novel I have read this year and for quite some time. A bit like reading a perfectly honed short story or novella. I can't imagine a person who wouldn't find their life enriched by reading it. - Just William's Luck (blog)
If shades of turquoise and aquamarine are your thing, then you will find this book extraordinarily beautiful. Low on dialogue, it's Vivès's remarkable illustrations that draw you on... It's like watching an extremely watery silent movie: evocative, dreamlike, mysterious. Never before has the monotony of swimming lengths seemed so appealing. - The Observer
A book so beautiful you'll want to jump right in. - Metro
Bastien Vives is attuned to the vulnerability of adolescent physiques and feelings. He bathes these young bodies in swathes of turquoise, shifting from flesh-coloured outlines above the surface to grey-green abstractions beneath, transforming the swimming pool into a special space, filled with hopes and desires. - Times Literary Supplement
Every once in a while, a graphic novel comes along that warrants the kind of attention more typically bestowed upon the likes of the Booker shortlist. Bastien Vivès's A Taste of Chlorine is one such book. Vivès manages to combine the unspoken yearning of Lost in Translation with the low-key detail of a film-maker such as Tom McCarthy. What's more, the art is such that you'll frequently find yourself stopping to admire the beauty of a single frame. Highly recommended. - Independent on Sunday
Every once in a while a book comes along that justifies all of your faith in the form. A Taste of Chlorine is one of those graphic novels that does the job perfectly: great art, intriguing storyline, well told, it has it all going on. Not just one of my favourite graphic novels in 2011, one of my favourite `reads' so far (even though it has hardly any words in it!) - Bookmunch
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About the Author
Bastien Vivès is a graphic novelist and illustrator. He is the author of several highly-acclaimed graphic novels, including The Butcher and Hollywood in January. Chlorine won the 'Essential Revelation' prize at the Angouleme Festival in 2009. He lives in Paris.